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Set against a backdrop of the 2012 student protests, Accordéon is an experimental novel, a piercing deconstruction of Québécois culture, and an ode to Montréal—a city where everything happens at once and all realities exist simultaneously. Against a satirical Ministry of Culture set on quotas, preservation, and containment according to its own cultural code, Kaie Kellough weaves voices and images from the margins to probe collective fantasies of Québec old and new.



Published by
Published 01 November 2016
Reads 6
EAN13 9781927886007
Language English

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0052€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Copyright ©2016 Kaie Kellough
ARP Books (Arbeiter Ring Publishing)
201E-121 Osborne Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada R3L 1Y4
Book design and layout by LOKI.
Printed and bound in Canada by Friesens on paper made from 100% recycled post-consumer
This book is fully protected under the copyright laws of Canada and all other countries of the
Copyright Union and is subject to royalty.
ARP Books acknowledges the generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Canada
Council for the Arts for our publishing program. We acknowledge the financial support of the
Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Province of Manitoba through
the Book Publishing Tax Credit and the Book Publisher Marketing Assistance Program of
Manitoba Culture, Heritage, and Tourism.
Kellough, Kaie, 1975-, author
Accordéon / Kaie Kellough.
ISBN 978-1-894037-83-9 (paperback) ISBN 978-1-927886-00-7 (epub)
I. Accordéon.
PS8571.E58643A64 2016 C813’.6 C2016-905009-2ARP Books, LOKI, Margaret Christakos,
Stefan Christoff, friends and family:
M e r c i.C O N T R I B U T O R S
AFTERWORDF O R E W O R D8The flying canoe is a folkloric entity. It appears in literature for children and young
adults, and in popular imagery from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Although the canoe is not central to today’s culture, its flight continues to be
interpreted in two opposing ways. On one hand, it is understood as novelty
entertainment. On the other, it is viewed as a symbolic decolonial event,
emphasizing the ascent of the colonized over the highest steeples of the colonial
During the sovereignty referendums of 1980 and 1995, the Oka Crisis of 1990
and the Student Strike of 2012 — moments when the social hierarchy was
contested — canoe sightings were reported, although none were substantiated.
Outside of local folklore from past centuries, this document contains the most
detailed known accounts of the flying canoe. Neither this document nor the
sightings that inform it constitute evidence of the existence of the canoe.
I am inside the Ministry. Everything I say is my confession, which I give of my own volition.
I don’t know how long I’ll be here. Time collapses and expands, so I am also outside the
pharmacy watching you exit with your L a n c ô m e facial moisturizer, which includes a natural
toning ingredient. I am equally in Berri metro watching as a man dressed like a wizard, with
Celtic patterns embroidered around the wide cuffs of his shirt, practices karate on the
platform. The crowd flows around him and everyone’s mind wanders. One hundred people
reenact the battle of the Plains of Abraham on Mont-Royal mountain, and I am here in front of
the Jean Coutu pharmacy thinking of General Montcalm and of how he died, with a hot lead
musket ball lodged in his stomach, burning a hole through him as he contorted himself and
begged for water and maybe death. At the same time, snow is falling in another century and
Laurier is pleading Riel’s case in Parliament. As he pleads, women sit in class in the École
Polytechnique, and they do not know that Marc Lépine will enter and separate them from the
men, before he starts shooting. Today the winners are inheriting their history as the losers are
crushed by their own, struggling to cope by selling contraband cigarettes. Joseph Légaré is
standing in his studio, imagining a wilderness and painting “The Martyrdom of Fathers Brébeuf
and Lalemant.” The Huron have the two fathers tied naked to stakes and are boiling water
with which to scald their flesh, while the sky soars above them and the trees stand indifferent.
The buildings downtown stand indifferent as the Arab boy is pinned to the floor of the metro by
security officers. Two Québécois students hover and record the incident on their phones.
They shout that the officers will become stars on YouTube. A beaver is trapped. People in
France will wear its fur around their shoulders and heads, and wealthy traders will dig wine
cellars under the soil of the Old Port. All of this happens at once, as night falls and the
students march. In defiance, one hundred thousand pots are struck by spoons, and the flying
canoe materializes on the churning water of the St-Laurent, right under the iron bridge. A
woman sits alone in the middle of the canoe. She plugs a violin into a string of effects pedals.
The pedals blink in the darkened hull. As she plays, her notes distort, multiply, reverberate,
bounce off the water and push the canoe upward. The water drips and lengthens into strings
and those translucent strings are played by the moonlight and the wind. The canoe rises
higher, in a slow spiral with its bow tilted upward, and the strings tremble as the canoe hovers
over the moon.1 . 0 1 . A
If you’re wondering why I’m speaking English it isn’t because I’m fond of the language. I also
speak French. I prefer to speak French. French is the language to which I default when the
world enters me. I have to translate myself. This act of translation is fraught. It is risky. A
good translator is like a Mathieu d’Acosta, a navigator who can find their way by looking at the
natural signs, like the treetops or the stars, or by sticking out their tongue and tasting the
direction the wind blows, and this indicates the direction their thought ought to travel. Which
word goes which way? What if a word going the wrong way gets taken? Where do things go
when they get lost in translation? One possibility is that they become graffiti. Nobody ever
sees graffiti being painted. It simply appears and is, to most people, illegible. If a French
thought is lost in translation in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve it may appear, just after midnight, on
the side of a brick building in Mile End, in Portuguese. Nobody understands how to read it,
and there it stays, on the side of the building, baffling, until it is either scrubbed off or
redirected from loss into clear translation.1 . 0 1 . B
Wednesday night walking through Berri metro, switching from the green line to the orange, I
see the author Dany Laferrière. He is tall and wearing a navy trenchcoat, spectacles, a
porkpie hat and he is holding a notebook in front of his face. He writes as he walks. I don’t know
how he sees in front of himself as he goes, but I wonder whether he closes his eyes and
writes his way, lets the words guide his steps. I realize that he isn’t taking steps at all, rather
he is drifting along six inches above the ground. He drifts past the orange line platform, then
up two flights of stairs without looking away from his notebook. I follow his drift out of the
station and into the street.
MC Each individual letter constitutes a step, while the accumulation of letters creates
a drift or a passage. Laferrière writes his own passage.
2MC Possibly, although instead of writing his drift, we can think of Laferrière
observing, studiously avoiding, and re-writing the passage that has been written for him.
His notebook may be in front of his face, but he is not proceeding blindly.
MC The notion of studious avoidance seems more fitting, and I prefer to think of him
avoiding the overlap of steps that is inevitable in the metro, and consequently avoiding
losing his way.
2MC Perhaps he is studiously recording his steps so that he, and others, can retrace
them. Recording things allows us to double back and revisit, even as we advance.